Soft Computing

, Volume 21, Issue 21, pp 6421–6433 | Cite as

Chemical reaction optimization with unified tabu search for the vehicle routing problem

  • Thu-Lan Dam
  • Kenli Li
  • Philippe Fournier-Viger
Methodologies and Application


This study proposes a new approach combining the chemical reaction optimization framework with the unified tabu search (UTS) heuristic to solve the capacitated vehicle routing problem (CVRP). The CVRP is one of the most well-studied problems not only because of its real-life applications but also due to the fact that the CVRP could be used to evaluate the efficiency of new algorithms and optimization methods. Chemical reaction optimization (CRO) is a new optimization framework mimicking the nature of chemical reactions. The CRO method has proved to be very effective for solving NP-hard optimization problems such as the quadratic assignment problem, neural network training, the knapsack problem, and the traveling salesman problem. We also present the design of elementary chemical reaction operations, the adaptation of the UTS algorithm to educate solutions in these operations. Finally, a thorough testing against well-known benchmark problems has been conducted. Experimental results show that the proposed algorithm is efficient and highly competitive in comparison with several prominent algorithms for this problem. The presented methodology may be a fine approach for developing similar algorithms to address other routing variants.


Capacitated vehicle routing problem Chemical reaction optimization Tabu search Metaheuristic 



The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and the editors for their comments which have helped to improve the manuscript. This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 61133005, 61432005, 61370095, 61472124, 61202109, and 61472126) and the International Science & Technology Cooperation Program of China (Grant Nos. 2015DFA11240, 2014DFBS0010). T-L. Dam was also partially supported by science research fund of Hanoi University of Industry, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thu-Lan Dam
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kenli Li
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Philippe Fournier-Viger
    • 5
  1. 1.College of Computer Science and Electronic EngineeringHunan UniversityChangshaChina
  2. 2.Faculty of Information TechnologyHanoi University of IndustryHanoiVietnam
  3. 3.CIC of HPCNational University of Defense TechnologyChangshaChina
  4. 4.National Supercomputing Center in ChangshaChangshaChina
  5. 5.School of Natural Sciences and HumanitiesHarbin Institute of Technology Shenzhen Graduate SchoolShenzhenChina

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